Transparency & Adaptive AA Explained

Written by Tim Smalley

April 7, 2006 | 11:43

Tags: #7900 #aa #aliasing #anti #anti-aliasing #explained #fsaa #geforce #image #improvements #msaa #performance #quality #radeon #transparency #x1900

Companies: #ati #nvidia

ATI - Adaptive Anti-Aliasing:

Transparency & Adaptive AA Explained Example 1 - CS: Source on ATI Transparency & Adaptive AA Explained Example 1 - CS: Source on ATI Transparency & Adaptive AA Explained Example 1 - CS: Source on ATI
4xAA, 4xPA AA, 4xQA AA
Our first example is from the cs_militia map - we're looking at the distant tree foliage through a scope with the Arctic Warfare Magnum sniper rifle. When you're moving, it's very easy to see the distant alpha tested textures crawling due to a lack of adaptive/transparency anti-aliasing as they fill large portions of the eye-level in-game scenery.

Looking at the differences between conventional 4xAA and 4xAA with performance adaptive anti-alasing, there are small differences in detail around the edges of the distant foliage when you're stationary, but the differences become more apparent when you're moving as you would in game. On the whole, the performance adaptive anti-aliasing scene looks a little smoother than conventional 4xAA, and the jaggies don't crawl around quite as much as you're moving towards them.

However, quality adaptive anti-aliasing takes things to another level - there is very little alpha-test texture crawling due to a lack of anti-aliasing on the alpha tested textures and the level looks superb. Of course, quality adaptive anti-aliasing results in some quite large performance drops in more intense scenes. Having said that though, we were able to keep a smooth frame rate in Militia at 1600x1200 4xAA 8xAF with a Radeon X1900XTX.

Transparency & Adaptive AA Explained Example 1 - CS: Source on ATI
4xAA
Transparency & Adaptive AA Explained Example 1 - CS: Source on ATI
4xPA AA
Transparency & Adaptive AA Explained Example 1 - CS: Source on ATI
4xQA AA
The chain-link fences are another good example of where adaptive anti-aliasing provides significant image quality improvements. Performance adaptive anti-aliasing really helps to improve image quality without too much of a frame rate hit, while quality adaptive anti-aliasing really makes the scene look fantastic. The frame rate hit is not as large as our previous example, but there were still siginificant frame rate drops to absorb.

The benefits of using quality adaptive anti-aliasing really show up in this scene. If you weren't convinced by the small differences in static foliage in our previous example, this scene should help to explain what adaptive anti-aliasing does to improve your in-game image quality.
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